Sports security combines manned guarding with access control devices, HD surveillance cameras & analytics in a command centre for a comprehensive security presence Providing security for sporting events and venues has long focused on personnel. Protection came in the form of guards and other personnel who controlled access to the venue and to restricted areas. With an increasing need to provide higher levels of protection in an age of terrorism, venues have turned to traditional access control equipment. Access control equipment for enhanced protection These days the typical large venue is equipped with cameras, and fans are checked by metal detectors at entrances. “You start off with access control to better protect the stadium,” explains Dr. Lou Marciani, Executive Director of National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at the University of Southern Mississippi. “We’re into magnetometers. We have bollards inside stadiums to protect against vehicle-borne explosives. We’ve got better trained people at gates that know how to use wands or magnetometers.” These tools are combined with enhanced surveillance and integrated systems within a command centre, that are tracking information from sources as diverse as social media and alarms. “We have much-improved pixel capacities and surveillance (cameras) that can tell me if you shaved last night,” he says. “We’re really moving along fast with good solid technology to enhance our capabilities without a doubt.” HD cameras for detailed coverage Technology manufacturers have responded to the needs of sports security with the right kinds of equipment. “High resolution digital cameras and the recording equipment are something that more and more stadiums are relying on,” says Paul Turner, Director of Event Operations & Security for AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys. “You have an array of cameras so that the goal is you’re able to provide coverage on every seat on the bowl. You’re digitally recording all the time so that you can zoom into a particular section and rewind the recording and watch what happens.” Facilities are no longer using just the standard pan-tilt-zoom cameras that scan areas and may or may not record a particular incident. “Now technology is out there where everything is being recorded all the time and you can forensically examine what happened very easily and understand what led to that situation,” explains Turner. “Not every stadium has that, of course, but more and more are making room for that kind of technology.” NCS4 provides information on sports security best practices, as well as rigoroustests and research into the best equipment available to the industry NCS4 providing information for sports security professionals Centres like NCS4 have increasingly become the source for not only best practices, but information on the best equipment available to the industry. “There are hundreds of camera manufacturers out there, and there are hundreds of folks that sell access control stuff,” observes Richard Fenton, Vice President of Corporate Security at Ilitch Holdings Inc., which includes the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and MLB’s Detroit Tigers. “There are all sorts of products, and they all say they’re the best. So [NCS4 has] a very elaborate lab testing protocol so that vendors can bring their products there. They put it through some rigorous testing; develop white papers on it. For someone like me who’s building a new arena, that’s a great advantage.”
On event days, representatives of emergency response & security agenciesare together and running sports venues as a unified group In the world of sports security, alliances are bringing together personnel and agencies that once only talked to each other during an emergency. Consider the recently announced agreement between the Security Industry Association (SIA) and the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4). This memorandum of understanding (MOU) is designed to foster collaboration in addressing the unique security challenges facing stadiums and other sports venues and how best to use security technologies to up the security ante. SIA and NCS4 stadium security partnership “SIA being the leading trade association for electronic and physical security solution providers gives NCS4 the capability to collaborate on identifying current and new products and services that address the future industry needs,” says NCS4 Director Lou Marciani. NCS4 has developed best practices and training programmes including certifications for sports security professionals. As venues have begun installing cameras and made increasing use of metal detectors to screen fans as they enter the ball park, this new deal will help ensure that security directors are installing the right kinds of equipment for their sport. As part of the agreement, the two organisations plan to develop a series of quarterly webinars, create presentations, speak at each other’s events, promote each other’s activities and programmes, publish articles in each other’s publications, and eventually develop joint vendor-neutral guidelines and best practices for stadium events. This alliance is just the latest step in the sports security’s profession move toward creating even greater collaboration. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) provides a standardised approachfor security personnel & emergency responders at mass gatherings Emergency personnel planning for incident management “I would have to say that [collaboration] has become the operating norm,” says Paul Turner, Director of Event Operations & Security for AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys. “Whereas in previous days a venue would have some police and some fire personnel and medical personnel assigned to that venue and they would just be like another resource that would be onsite. Now the intent is for everyone to do integrated planning where you have a group together of police, fire, medical stadium operations even federal agencies that are all part of building your event plan and then you’re doing unified command.” In this new era, on event days, representatives of all these agencies are together and running the venue as a unified group. Gone are the days when a venue operator would call for help after an incident occurred. “We’re operating in a regular mode and if an incident presents itself then we’re commanding that incident,” says Turner. “It’s not like you have to bring a whole bunch of people together to deal with a particular incident because you’ve been running that event.” The development of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) provided security personnel at venues with a standardised approach to incident management. Developed by the Department of Homeland Security, the programme facilitates coordination between all responders including all levels of government with public, private, and nongovernmental organisations. “More and more mass gatherings are being managed under that kind of a structure,” says Turner.
Sports stadiums and leagues are constantly pushing for higher security standards & best practices to strengthen venues that may be perceived as "soft targets" Terrorism threats have focused the attention of sports security professionals like Paul Turner, Director of Event Operations & Security for AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on how to more effectively screen guests and ensure that fans and athletes are kept safe. It has made the sobering reality that stadiums are “soft targets” a part of their daily approach to doing business. Everything changed on 9/11. Transformed as much as anything else by the terrorist attacks has been security for sports venues. “9/11 was a huge catalyst for a lot of things when it comes to securing public places, especially sporting venues,” says Paul Turner. “A lot of what we’re doing today was put in motion when 9/11 happened.” Intelligence through close communications One of the most dramatic changes in stadium security has come through close communications between agencies at every level including new access to intelligence gathering. “One of the big things has been communications,” says Dr. Lou Marciani, executive director of the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4). “The different law enforcement agencies, emergency managers, event people are all communicating together. Intelligence was the next improvement. So we’re on the cutting edge of situational awareness.” High security standards At AT&T Stadium, where the NFL Dallas Cowboys play, security is guided by standards created by the National Football League. These standards and practices are mandatory for all NFL venues and run the gamut of daily operations all the way through event-day operations for games. “We’re all being held to those standards,” says Turner. “Then the league put in place an auditing mechanism where they come and evaluate each venue each year and they give you a score on how you are performing based on those standards.” The National Basketball Association and the National Hockey Association have created similar rules for their own venues. Guards and metal detectors at stadium entrances These security procedures have changed the way fans enter the stadium. Security officials now use hand-held security wands at gates and limit the size and type of bags that can be brought in. Last summer, the NFL added full walk-through metal detectors to its list of "best practices" for stadium security. Next year all 31 stadiums across the country must install them at entry points. Some venues, including Lambeau Field and MetLife Stadium, are using them now at certain gates. Entry points to a stadium may be secured by walk-through metal detectors, staffwith security wands, guards and sniffer dogs When terrorists struck in Paris a few months ago, they also attacked a soccer stadium where a match was taking place. Observant security personnel stopped the attackers from entering the stadium and, in the process, saved lives. That event prompted stadiums across America to up security with more guards and even bomb sniffing dogs. Balancing sports security with guest experience Each time security is increased, professionals are faced with an old problem – how do you keep the stadium safe without creating unacceptable obstacles to getting people into the venue? “You want to make sure you have adequate resources so that you can consistently deliver the level of security,” says Turner. “It’s trying to balance security with the guest experience. It’s making sure that you can conduct that search consistently, but you’re not having excessive wait times of your guests and they’re getting frustrated with the time it takes for you to do that screening.” The need to keep lines moving without missing a potential threat requires the right number of trained personnel and entry points that are designed to accommodate the movement of crowds. There also must be sufficient personnel inside the venue itself to respond to fan concerns, according to Turner. Retrofitting older stadiums and extending security perimeters While newer stadiums such as the one being built by the Atlanta Falcons are incorporating security into their design, older venues have been compelled to retrofit their facilities. “It’s making sure you’ve got equipment inside the building whether it be cameras or other access control equipment,” said Turner. “It’s ensuring you’ve got a good view and good control of the exterior of the building as well. It’s also trying to design for entries and other access ways that are going to provide the appropriate footprint to do patron screening and to make sure you can set those areas up correctly. It is always a challenge, but you’re seeing a lot more attention being paid to newer venues because we all know it’s something we have to do.” In recent years, stadiums have realised they need to extend their field of view and security outside the venue itself and into the parking lots around the stadium. “So if you’ve got gathering areas outside your building such as for tailgating and parking lots or areas where people are going to gather for queuing to get into the building, we’re considering that as also being under our protective umbrella,” says Turner. “We’re paying a lot more attention to how we manage those resources that we put out to help provide for safety and security in those kind of extended perimeters.” Security procedures such as bag checks are designed to infringe on the guestexperience as little as possible, but to be thorough and consistent SAFETY Act certification Hosting large numbers of people in one place has also increased the financial risks for stadiums and sports league even with greatly increased levels of security. Now an increasing number of organisations and venues are seeking certification through the Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002 (SAFETY Act). Bestowing liability protections for providers of certain anti-terrorism technologies, the SAFETY Act provides incentives for the development and deployment of these technologies by creating a system of risk and litigation management. “On the one hand it’s looking at the how and what you do and how effective that is, and on the other end it’s actually capping your liability costs,” says Richard Fenton, Vice President of Corporate Security at Ilitch Holdings Inc., which includes the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and MLB’s Detroit Tigers. “If you get certification you get all of the benefits of designation, but you also get to exercise the government contractor defence and in essence there is a presumption of immunity because you’ve been thoroughly vetted by the Safety Act office.” The NFL was the first sports league to submit its best practices and security protocols to Homeland Security and be awarded SAFETY Act certification. By granting the certification to the NFL, venues can acquire and lose it on daily basis. “When the Detroit Lions are playing a football game, they are covered by that certification,” notes Fenton. “The next night when they’re doing a Taylor Swift concert and they have the same security protocols and systems and technology and very same staff that’s been trained the same way, they’re not covered.” Rising opportunity for security companies The elevated need for security has also created new opportunities for security companies. “There are expectations for a higher level of performance and professionalism,” says Jeff Spoerndle, Vice President of Whelan Event Services. “Our organisation has been doing special event security since the 1970s, but we did a major expansion into the marketplace in 2009. At that time, we saw there was really a weakness in the marketplace for somebody who was a professional providers of services.” These days Whelan is providing personnel who are able to handle all aspects of stadium security from ticket taking to the operation of cameras and metal detectors.